Success by the Numbers
Given the will, incentive and information, HME providers can foster phenomenal change.
- By David Kopf
- Sep 01, 2016
Being able to measure
things means being able to change things. In fact,
if you study and monitor a problem or a challenge,
you can completely turn that situation around
and turn it into a success story. That’s why we’ve
devoted this issue’s cover story (starting page 24) to
retail performance metrics that any provider with a
cash sales business should be using.
I didn’t truly grasp the power of information
until I was in college, but when I did, it that lesson
was burned into my brain and has helped me my
Sometime around 1988, I needed work that would
let me go to college during the day, and work nights
and weekends. After several day’s hunting, I landed
what was probably the perfect job for a young guy
like me: working swing shift and weekends at a
Kinko’s Copies shop in Southern California.
Yeah, I know, Kinko’s sounds like one of the
lamest, most uncool jobs a college kid could have,
but the perks were ideal for a student. Besides
the university friendly hours, working swing
shift meant that I was running large orders for
customers such as law offices and insurance
companies, which kept the machines humming
for extended periods of time. That freed up a
good portion of time to sneak some study breaks
if there wasn’t other work to do, or customers in
the store. Additionally, the employees got almost free
discounts on copies and binding, and free
computer time, which was crucial for a commuter
Journalism student who had reams of stories to
write, but was still saving for his own PC.
But in addition to the perks — and vastly more
valuable — were some solid lessons I learned about
prioritization, managing time, customer service,
and above all, I learned what a motivated team can
do if it is given the right information.
A Not-so-Hot Start
That said, our team wasn’t always so motivated. In
fact, a lot of us were pretty disconnected from the
job. To much of the staff, the shop was just another
place to earn a paycheck, and few were invested in
the work at all. Most employees’ performance was
middling at best and the turnover was high. They
just didn’t like the job all that much, and couldn’t
care less about whether the store performed well
or closed up for good. It was just another job in
another strip mall.
But then the company had a brainstorm: It
implemented a profit-sharing program. If the store
performed above its goals, then the employees
would get a share of the profits. Suddenly, employees
that had only looked forward to quitting time were
invested in the store’s performance. The clock-watchers
and time-killers were now incentivized
But incentive was only half of the plan’s brilliance.
The second component was information.
Every week, the company provided everyone in the
shop with detailed data on the store’s performance.
Thanks to careful coding at the cash registers, we
knew how well we were performing in virtually any
category. We knew how well desktop publishing
services were doing. We knew how well our shiny
new full-color copier was performing in terms of
sales (that thing was a cash cow). We could even
drill-down as far as to be able to tell whether or not
single-sided copies on pastel paper were on-target.
The volume of information was vast — and it was
powerful, especially considering that we were
financially motivated to see the store do well. We
immediately were able to identify where we were
performing well and where we needed to improve.
It let us see how high-ticket items could really help
push revenue as well as how some of the more
commodity items, such as plain, old black-and-white
copies, could help foster dependable cash flow.
The bottom line? We tripled the store’s profits in
three months. That’s no lie. A simple profit-sharing
program, paired with a ton of regularly updated
data totally reinvigorated the staff and practically
turbo-charged our store’s revenue.
That lesson — having the right motivation to
improve; determining the right metrics to measure
that improvement; and then regularly tracking
and trending those metrics — has helped me
throughout my personal and professional life.
And it’s a lesson that any provider can apply to
its business. How can you motivate your team?
How should you measure your company’s performance?
How can you track those indicators? The
answers to those questions can be downright
This article originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of HME Business.
David Kopf is the Publisher HME Business, DME Pharmacy and Mobility Management magazines. He was Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy from 2008 to 2023. Follow him on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/dkopf/ and on Twitter at @postacutenews.